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Published April 23, 2012, 06:59 PM

Minnesota woman using cold cap technology in battle against cancer

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - When going through cancer treatment, people look for ways to boost their spirit. The side effects of chemo, including hair loss, can be especially tough. One area woman is waging her own personal war on cancer by wearing a Penguin Cold Cap.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

When going through cancer treatment, people look for ways to boost their spirit. The side effects of chemo, including hair loss, can be especially tough. One area woman is waging her own personal war on cancer by wearing a Penguin Cold Cap.

Paul Viger is a team player, and today his offensive move is preparing the latest tool his wife is using during her battle with breast cancer - the cold cap. Kept in a cooler of dry ice, the ice cap is worn by Karen Viger, who today started her 2nd cycle of chemotherapy.

Karen Viger – Has Breast Cancer: “Real anxious to see if would fall out but so far so good. I am 21 days after first treatment and I have had a little bit of hair thinning, but it is still there and intact.”

While the cold cap therapy is not part of Karen’s medical treatment, she and her husband, from rural Campbell, Minnesota, researched this on their own and decided to try the much talked about option. Cold Cap Therapy, keeping the scalp so cold during chemo, the hair does not fall out.

Paul Viger – Karen’s Husband: “Less chemo goes to the hair follicles.”

Karen will wear a total of 16 ice caps today changed every half hour. She will also be wearing them once she gets home this afternoon, after this morning’s treatment - a total of 7 hours. For Karen, it is one less thing have anxiety about. Losing hair is hard. People know you are sick, and then come the questions.

Karen Viger: “The cap is cool, but I do not feel like I have an ice cream headache.”

It is also easier for Karen and Paul's children, so this is one way to let cancer know it is not in charge.

Karen Viger: “It is one piece of this whole cycle that you do not have control over that you can embrace and have some power over.”

With Karen on her second cycle, and no sign of hair loss, she is optimistic the cold cap is doing what its promoters promise. She looks forward to spending the summer cancer free and celebrating with a full of hair.

The Pengiun cold cap is widely used throughout Europe and the inventors are trying to get FDA approval here. Until then, oncologists are skeptical about recommending them, but usually don't oppose a patient trying them. Out of pocket costs for the full treatment run about $1,500.

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